Free speech: Trump mounts assault on social media

As the the election nears, the Trump administration is enlisting Senate Republicans to pressure social media companies it sees as hostile to their cause. It wants Senate committees to hold hearings on Section 230 exempting platforms for liability for user posts. Republicans claim Section 230 allows social media to discriminate against conservative ideas. (Politico, October 1 2020, by Christiano Lima and John Hendel)

President Trump is also engaged in an attempt to ban TikTok and WeChat out of security concerns. Government lawyers claim TikTok is a bullhorn for Chinese propaganda and accuse both TikTok and WeChat of allowing the Communist Party to use the personal information of U.S. citizens. (The Guardian, September 29, 2020, by Kari Paul)

TikTok has begun to fight the president’s ban on First Amendment grounds demanding that in light of the user’s free speech rights, there must be a substantial government interest in the ban. For sure, TikTok has been the rally stage for youthful activists, recently centered on police brutality and Black Lives Matter protests. Some of the most noted traffic centers on Trump himself, providing him with ample incentive to censor the platform. (Slate, September 30, 2020, by Gregg Leslie)

The president has also made Twitter a target accusing it of bias against him and conservative voices. He ordered a review of Section 230 and government agencies to reduce advertising on platforms that engage in viewpoint discrimination. (The Washington Post, September 30, 2020, by Lee C. Bollinger and Donald E. Graham)

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